Prices will go up: Retail bosses issue Brexit "catastrophe" warning

Lynsey Barber
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A woman pulls her shopping basket as she
Remain supporters warn of prices rising after Brexit (Source: Getty)

Retail heavyweights have come out against Brexit, warning that leaving the European Union would be a "catastrophe" for Britain and a "massive shock to the system".

The former bosses of four of Britain's biggest retailers - Tesco, Sainsbury's, M&S and B&Q - have warned Brexit will cause prices to rocket, a spike in inflation, job losses and the pound to plummet, speaking to the Mail on Sunday.

Sir Terry Leahy, Justin King, Mark Bolland and SIr Ian Cheshire said:

"We believe an exit could be catastrophic for the consumer recovery on which so much of our economic stability depends. It is impossible to see how there could be an exit without an impact on prices and inflation. The unintended consequences of a Leave vote and the uncertainty it would create would be a massive shock to the system"

They also warned of the difficulty in negotiating new trade deals if Britain votes to leave Europe in the referendum on 23 June.

"The much-cited suggestion that we will be free of the apparent constraints of over-regulation if we leave Europe is nonsense. We need regulation to protect consumers and, if we want to continue to trade with Europe, the rules still apply. If we left, there is the risk that Westminster would continue to build additional regulation on top of the European laws, making it more onerous rather than less."

It comes as Prime Minister David Cameron claimed shopping bills would rise. The cost of the average weekly shop would rise by three per cent, or £120 each year, while the price of clothes and shoes would rise by five per cent, £100 per year, he said, citing new analysis by the Treasury in the Sun on Sunday.

Responding to the warning from retail bosses, a Vote Leave spokesperson told the newspaper:

The EU is good for the bosses and for the bankers. It isn’t good for the public who have to pay the taxes that go to the EU instead of to our NHS and it isn’t good for small businesses. As independent experts have found, the EU pushes up the prices in our supermarkets because of its protectionist policies.

The Treasury is this week due to publish moe detailed analysis of the short-term impact on the economy of Brexit. Chancellor George Osborne on Saturday issued a fresh warning that house prices will be hit by Britain leaving the EU.

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